Alisa Lee Sherick MD

University of Colorado Denver

Targeting MerTK as an immunotherapeutic strategy in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia

Though pediatric cancer survival rates have considerably improved over the past 40 years, childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is still has a relatively poor outcome. This is partially because the immune system has a hard time recognizing and killing AML cells. Dr. Lee Sherick’s lab has found that when a protein called MerTK is present on immune cells, the immune system can’t fight leukemia very well. When MerTK is blocked, the immune system can kill leukemia cells better.
The goals of her research are to investigate how blocking MerTK helps the immune system recognize and kill AML. It is important to know how blocking MerTK works on the immune system so that doctors can decide which patients will benefit most from a MerTK blocking medicine. Though the goal of her grant is to use this treatment for pediatric AML, ultimately, the is hope to use it in a wide variety of pediatric cancers to improve survival rates and decrease the need for harsh chemotherapy.


Since being funded by The Pablove Foundation, Dr. Lee Sherick has received $900,000 from the V Foundation, $876,000 from the NIH and $150,000 from American Society of Hematology to continue her research on the immune response in leukemia.

Awarded in 2017